Brand Fires on the Fridge; or An Out-West Pin-Up Souvenir

What to do when your long-awaited field trip to the West didn’t produce lanky cowboys dropping into your lap?

Buy one.

Take this tall glass of cool water I found at a Long Beach bookstore.

A twofer special from Monarch, from the collection of es

Monarch Books doesn’t reveal the illustrator of this western by King of Cowboy Lit Ernest Haycox, but the style is distinctly Robert Stanleyish (and the foreground bucko looks like Stanley too–the illustrator often used himself as the manly model).

Ernest Haycox wrote moody, atmospheric westerns wherein each ten-gallon-hat-wearing, low-slung-holster-bearing protagonist had a chip on his shoulder, a tobacco pouch peeping from his pocket, a woman to conquer, and a gimlet-eyed gunslinger to face down. A tall order for any writer to accomplish but Haycox could write westerns riding backwards on a horse with Apaches raining arrows down on him. Blindfolded. With two hands tied behind his back. And his wife could do the same but backwards and in high heels. Um. Anyhoo, this particular title (which I must admit first drew me to pick it because I read “Brand Fires on the Fridge,” which must be the kitchen-sink kind of western) was formed from two separate pulp magazine short stories published in 1929, which gives me pause. Was it written in the bright days before the stock market plunged? Did penniless stockholders and out-of-work laborers absorb the tight-lipped shoot-from-the-hip style of the hero and lift stakes to go West, young man?

Monarch was known for its pulpy mass-market books, which ranged from titles with the words “Flesh,” “Fury,” and “Fire,” to erotic tales. I heard that they were planning to scent their books–romances with Chanel No. 5, for example. Westerns would’ve smelled like…leather? Horses? Rye? One too many cigarettes and saddle sores? The smell-o-matic book never happened, but the possibilities are intriguing…

Sage? Stinky socks? Campfire? Gunpowder? Sweat?

With his Colt and his fists... from the collection of es

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